By Shari Goldstein Stern
Frozen yogurt is one of those little gifts in life — not quite as rich as ice cream, but far creamier than sherbet. While it was introduced in the late 1970s, it began topping the market in the 1980s. When the health-craze of the decade stirred in alternative sweets with some nutrition, frozen yogurt started melting hearts.
Happy 20th Anniversary to Doug Sanders, the entrepreneur who has owned and operated Lakewood TCBY on East Mockingbird at Abrams since 2001.
The Lakewood site, across Mockingbird from Hillside Village, was opened as a corporate-owned store, as well as all of the additional 60 or so TCBY stores in DFW at the time. There were no franchises sold in the area until 1996, and they were all existing stores.
Yogurt took a dip in popularity, but on February 20, 1988, a “little” national chain, The Country’s Best Yogurt (TCBY) thumped its nose at trends and opened locations around the country. That was the year the Lakewood location opened, along with every other store in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. It wasn’t until March 2001 when TCBY started franchising that Doug Sanders purchased his store.
“The person I purchased the store from trained me in the TCBY brand a few years before, and he was ready to sell and split. It was an opportunity to purchase a store with great potential, or so I believed. I wanted the store to become a neighborhood go-to spot,” the owner said. Based on the number of cars in the drive-thru line at all times, it appears Sanders has accomplished that and then some. The average number of cars in line at peak hours is about 15- 20 stacked from the parking lot to the drive-thru window. “There was a rumor there were 27 cars one day in July,” Sanders said.
In the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, sales at Sanders’ store melted rapidly. The entrepreneur said, “Once the neighbors felt more comfortable venturing outside their homes, we saw quite a rapid recovery, and are continuing to see nice year-over-year trends.”
Sanders’ TCBY employs 13 team members. Caroline has been the cake decorator and the owner’s right-hand person for more than 25 years, since before Sanders bought the store.
From an avid customer’s point of view, team members must enjoy working at TCBY, based on their consistent, upbeat professional service. You get the impression they get along like a family. If they don’t, they have this frequent TCBY groupie fooled. Nice job!
According to Sanders, TCBY’s guests range from ages 1 to 100. “We serve a gentleman several times a week who turned 92 this summer. The majority of our guests are young families. Probably far more than 70 percent are returning customers,” Sanders noted. “We serve many out-of-state visitors who come back for more. Of course, there’s always someone from the area discovering the store for the first time.”
Recently, Sanders’ TCBY celebrated Mother’s Day with complementary treats for moms in August. On the actual holiday in May, the country was pretty much hunkered down due to the pandemic.
Sanders, a home-grown East Dallasite, graduated from Lake Highlands High School. He studied architecture at Texas Tech for five years, and then took off for Durango, Colo., where he enjoyed two of his dreams: to live in the Rockies and own his own business. That business was Skinny’s Frozen Yogurt Shoppe in historic downtown Durango.
Team member Kaitlyn has been scooping at TCBY for four years. She says the job really keeps her on her toes. She enjoys the fast pace, as she races from the window to the cooler roundtrip dozens of times in her TCBY tie dyed T-shirt. She added that Doug (Sanders) is great to work for, “He’s sweet and very flexible about scheduling.”
“My favorite part of my job is getting to know all the customers and my team members. We all have a good sense of humor and make each other laugh a lot,” Kaitlyn said. She added that her very favorite part of the job is getting to know the dogs at the drive-thru, hanging out the car windows. “They love it when I give them a treat and they know they’ll see me again soon.”